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We're planning a road trip through England and Scotland next month and we'll have a car rental.

While the plan is to focus on the rural parts, we do want to spend a day in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Is daily street parking in those two cities available and safe or will we need to find a parking garage to leave the car all day?

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On-street parking is available, and safe, in both Glasgow and Edinburgh; however it’s expensive¹ in and near the city centres (including on Sundays in some areas), it’s often very hard to find a spot anywhere near the “touristy” areas, and many spaces are time-limited so you wouldn’t be able to leave your car in a single spot anyway. Ground and multi-storey car parks are also available in both cities, often with the option to book a spot in advance, but they also tend to be very expensive. On top of all that, driving to Edinburgh and Glasgow city centres is often painful — roadworks are common, as are traffic jams, and there are many traps for the unwary (e.g. bus “gates” in Glasgow city centre).

An interesting alternative is park and ride in both cases.

Edinburgh has seven park and ride car parks all around the city, five of which connect to bus or tram services, the other two connecting to train or coach services. There is no charge for parking, except at Newcraighall (50p for 24h). They all have ticketing facilities so you can buy tickets before boarding without needing the exact fare (as you would on a bus). Bus and tram day tickets are reasonably priced and will allow you to use public transport to move around the town; if you park at the Ingliston park and ride you can also take the tram into town (don’t worry about the zones, the standard day ticket is valid all the way to the park and ride; it’s only the last leg to the airport which requires a special ticket). It can take quite a while to ride the bus into town, but on a weekday it will usually be less than it would take you in your car. The buses in from park and rides are mostly standard bus services, and you can get off at any bus stop (except on express services) — depending on which park and ride you start from, this can provide easy access to the zoo, Fountainbridge, the Royal Mile, the West End, the East End etc. Do make sure you know in advance which buses you can get to go back to the car park, and when they run. I’ve never used the Newcraighall park and ride, mentioned by vclaw, but it does seem like an interesting option if you’re coming from the East, with a ten-minute train ride into Waverley Station.

Glasgow has three park and ride car parks connecting to the subway, many more connecting to trains (look for “Scotrail locations” on the park-and-ride page); you can also try your luck with on-street parking near a subway station. The Bridge Street and Kelvinbridge car parks are small and it’s best to get there early. Some touristy areas have free on-street parking nearby, for example Kelvinside immediately to the north-west of the botanic gardens. In the subway park and ride system, you pay a fixed price for all-day parking and one return ticket to the town centre (passengers will have to buy additional tickets). Since it’s a subway, on a small loop, it doesn’t take long to get anywhere close to a subway station; note however that buses operate a different ticketing system so combining the subway and buses can quickly get expensive. The trains around Glasgow are affordable (certainly by UK train standards), quite frequent and take you right into the city centre.


¹ 2023 street parking rates are up to £6.70 per hour in Edinburgh, and up to £5.60 per hour in Glasgow.

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  • Also Newcraighall park and ride, for the train to Edinburgh.
    – vclaw
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:16
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Speaking for Edinburgh specifically on many city centre streets there is a 4 hour maximum stay meaning you would need to move the car to another space after 4 hours. The cost of parking on the street in the centre can be more expensive (up to £4.20 an hour) than parking for the day in a multi-storey car park (from around £18 a day).

Parkopedia is a good tool for finding the best place to park. It also shows where there is unrestricted (i.e. free) street parking.

Not all street parking in Edinburgh is free on a Sunday, although you can find streets where there is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

Will you be staying overnight in Edinburgh or just visiting for the day? If the former and you want to mention the street or area you'll be staying I can recommend parking there.

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  • We'll probably be staying in some village outside or even camping if not too cold/wet. So we don't know where we're staying
    – amphibient
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 14:59
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    @amphibient You may well be able to park free in the village that you choose and get a bus into Edinburgh. You can check route maps at lothianbuses.com/maps-and-times/network-maps, lothianbuses.com/our-services/east-coast-buses and firstgroup.com/south-east-and-central-scotland/routes-and-maps/…. An adult single ticket with Lothian Buses is £1.70, or £4 for a day ticket which lets you travel all day. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 8:18
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    I don't know the area well (and last time I was in Scotland I was cycling so had no trouble parking) but a good option for getting to city centres in the UK can be to park at a railway station in the commuter belt. You'll probably pay for the parking but nowhere near city centre prices, and trains are less likely than buses to get stuck in traffic. Taking Glasgow as an example, you could stay near Loch Lomond (recommended) and get the train from Balloch. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 11:57

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